Innovation and the “New Core”: What to Expect in 2021

March 2021

With 2021 billed as the year the global economy pivots from pandemic to recovery, consumers and brands have much to look forward to. Growing vaccination rates paired with pent-up demand for real life experiences are likely to lead to opportunities for brands that can unlock “revenge spending” through innovation. This briefing highlights the key industries that stand to gain the most from a post-pandemic recovery in 2021, with advice from our industry experts and case studies on innovation.

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Innovation during the recovery

Preparing for a best case short- and mid-term scenario

Scenario planning must consider the negative and the positive.While full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a long-term challenge, abetter-than-expected economic recovery in 2021 remains possible, fuelled by aglobal vaccination programme. Growth prospects are presently brightest in theUS, UK, EU and other developed markets. While the baseline scenario suggests anuneven recovery, some discretionary areas of the consumer economy may be poisedfor strong prospects in the second half of 2021.

The top 20% of earners will at be the leading edge of recovery

The pandemic has widened the social divide, with a slowerrecovery for lower-income and more economically vulnerable consumers. Anyaccelerating recovery will disproportionately benefit affluent consumers, whorepresent the majority of consumer spending in many discretionary industries –particularly restaurants, travel, high-end apparel, accessories and personalgoods.

Could some sectors benefit from a “Revenge Spending” boost?

The easing of lockdown conditions in China and Australiaprovides some indication of the spending patterns that can be expected acrossthe US and Europe, as vaccination programmes reduce the number of activeCOVID-19 cases. Pent-up demand among affluent consumers could fuel a short-termsurge in spending on luxury goods, on-premise dining and domestic travel asbusinesses are permitted to reopen, although local setbacks may be expected.

Innovating to stay well-positioned in a recovery scenario

As conditions improve, brands and retailers must be preparedfor further disruptions in consumer routines and spending. A more optimisticrecovery scenario carries its own risks for each industry, as companies striveto ensure they are prepared for the possibility of a faster return to physicalretail and away-from-home in-person commerce. New, flexible operating models,targeted incentives for consumers and new product innovation will be criticalin ensuring success as the recovery gathers steam.



Setting an Optimistic Scene for a Covid-19 Recovery

Imagining the steps towards a faster-than-expected recovery in 2021
Under optimistic scenarios, latent demand will be unlocked in 2021
Industry surveys show increasing belief in near-term revenue growth
Higher-income consumers will benefit first from an accelerating recovery
Easing restrictions may unlock pent-up demand among high earners
A potential rebound for restaurants, domestic tourism and luxury goods
The industries poised to benefit from an optimistic recovery scenario
“Revenge spending” from affluent consumers to kick-start recovery?
Away from Home: Australia shows the reality of a stop-start recovery
Foodservice/on-premise recovery gathers pace in Australia
How can brands be prepared for a short-term acceleration?
Innovation during the recovery

Expert Opinions on the Key Covid-19 Rebound Industries

Five industries expected to benefit from “revenge spending” in 2021
Apparel and footwear industry set for a strong rebound in 2021
Cashless society to trigger changes in personal accessories consumption
Emotional indulgence as consumers invest in luxury post lockdowns
Travel adapts and transitions to a value creation model
A return to out-of-home dining, but safely and less frequently for many

How Brands are Innovating to Unlock Growth

Stronger digital genes of “social retail store” to capture resurging traffic
Four exemplary touch points of Burberry’s digital in-store transformation
Four exemplary touch points of Burberry’s digital in-store transformation
Case study in personal accessories: Swarovski
Product: Swarovski reboots its portfolio and branding
Process: Shifting upmarket with a mix of digital
Case Study in Travel: Iceland
Iceland: Boosting international travellers' confidence through pandemic?
#buildbackbetter and Iceland’s infrastructure investments for the future


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